Friday Night Rewind: Bigger Than Football

This week’s Rewind won’t feature my thoughts from other games around the Valley. Quite honestly, as I sit down to write this at 12:55AM, I’ve barely checked any scores.

Tonight my mind was elsewhere. It still is, actually…

My first trip to Betty H. Fairfax High School in Laveen is one I’ll never forget.

I made the 55-minute drive to south Phoenix for a great matchup between two Metro Section frontrunners and left wondering what exactly happened during my near four-hour stay on campus. 

South Mountain made history knocking off rival Betty Fairfax for the first time 37-20. Not only did it ruin the Stampede’s homecoming, it gave the Jaguars an inside track to their first section championship in a decade.

However, with just over two minutes to play until halftime, nobody was worried about football, just what was happening inside the football stadium at this exact moment.

A few people have asked me to describe the feeling and the only adjective I could come up with was “surreal.”

Surreal to hear and see shreeking students and fans from both schools flooding out of the stands not knowing where these gunshots were coming from.

Surreal to see two teams lying face down on the field and their respective sidelines at the advice of coaches.

Surreal to see the head coaches, athletic directors and game officials volleying back and forth whether or not to finish the game Friday night, Saturday morning or even Monday night as helicopters circled overhead and cop cars lay stake in the parking lot just beyond the Fairfax bleachers.

It’s sad, really.

Sad an incident like this put so many innocent lives in danger.

Sad someone had the pre-conceived agenda of driving past a high school football stadium and firing a round of stray bullets.

Sad that so many will label this a “south Phoenix thing” when, in reality, it could happen anywhere at anytime in the Valley.

Sad some who attended Friday’s game will likely think twice about coming back again and honestly, can you blame them?

“It’s unfortunate that it happened but I think these teams played a great game,” South Mountain co-head coach Marcus Carter said. “Obviously, the incident will be [in the] spotlight but I’m glad the two teams got to finish [the game].”

I’m thankful for the police officers, the Fairfax on-campus security and public address announcer who all moved and reacted quickly, instructing fans within seconds where to flee to safety.

An ugly situation could have been far worse.

Thank God it wasn’t.